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WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CO-WORKING SPACES?

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CO-WORKING SPACES?

When walking into a co-working space, the first thing you will notice is that the atmosphere feels completely different from a regular office. You will feel a sense of excitement and collaboration in the air with a mixture of occupants who are deep in focus at their very own private desks, as well as other occupants who are engaged in conversation at the larger shared tables.

In essence, co-working spaces are shared work spaces. They are more affordable alternatives for those who want to escape their isolated home offices and noisy coffee shops.   People who make use of co-working spaces are usually freelancers, entrepreneurs, start-up companies and small teams who want to take advantage of flexible space and hours. Co-working spaces offer these occupants office-like amenities, such as hot-desks, boardrooms and kitchens.

When it comes to co-working spaces, the allure lies in the affordability. You can rent out what you need, instead of renting an entire office, which can be very expensive. Co-working spaces can work on membership-based models, and usually, occupants can decide between paying a daily fee or a monthly fee. It’s important to note that these membership fees can vary depending on whether you work at a shared desk or want a single desk to yourself.

Benefits of co-working spaces:

1. Professional environment

Co-working spaces allow entrepreneurs and freelancers the opportunity to work in a professional environment with flexible terms without having to empty their pockets.

2. Networking

Co-working spaces are open to anyone and attract freelancers and entrepreneurs from all walks of life. This means that you are in close proximity to a wide range of professionals which provides you with the perfect opportunity to build connections and network with other professionals, both inside and outside your field.

We have seen a massive rise in the popularity of co-working spaces. This is mainly due to the increasing numbers of contractors and start-up companies who seek office space that is affordable. Co-working spaces are innovative, and it changes the way that people work. In the future, we will likely see even more people ditching coffee shops and home offices to work in co-working spaces. The need for co-working spaces will always be there, therefore, this could be a very profitable investment.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR BEFORE BUYING A PROPERTY

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR BEFORE BUYING A PROPERTY

You’ve searched far and wide for the perfect home for you and your family, and you’ve finally found it, or so you thought. Buying a home, especially for the first time, is as overwhelming as it is exciting.

You’ve viewed your dream home, but remember, you receive so much information during your viewing, that you could easily become overwhelmed and miss important details. Especially if you have fallen in love with your potential new home. It is important to remember that there are various “red flags” that you need to look out for before purchasing, as missing these “red flags” could have significant financial repercussions. Before signing, make sure to look out for the following:

1.Foundation and structural faults

What do you think is the most important part of a house? The double garage? The interior? How well-lit the rooms are? No. The most important part of the house, and arguably the costliest to repair, is the foundation of the house. Make sure to look out for large cracks in the walls, as this could be a sign of some serious structural problems with the foundation. Make sure to thoroughly investigate the door frames; if door frames don’t appear to be square or if the doors have difficulty closing, it could be a sign of structural problems.

2.Poor drainage/grading

In most cases, water problems in a house are directly related to poor drainage or grading. However, it is often difficult to detect if a house has poor drainage or grading. An obvious sign of the above-mentioned faults is pools of water or a bouncy bathroom floor which could indicate that there is a leaking shower drain. Make sure to also look out for overflowing gutters, water stains and cracks in the foundation.

3.Patches of fresh paint

A coat of fresh paint is an excellent and quick way to spruce up your home, but if there are random patches of fresh paint around the house, it could be cause for concern. Why? Because it is possible that the seller is trying to hide something beneath the coat of paint.

4.Faulty electrical wiring

If you are looking to buy an older home, make sure that the electrical wiring is not faulty, as house fires caused by faulty wiring is not as uncommon as we would hope. This is especially the case in older homes, as these homes don’t always have an ample supply of power and the number of electrical outlets like newer homes have. Also look out for any exposed wires, as this could cause significant harm to either the home or your family.

5.Neighbourhood condition

When looking for your perfect home, always remember that you are not only investing in the property itself, but also in the neighbourhood. Make sure to ask enough questions about the neighbourhood. For example, if you move into a neighbourhood that is deteriorating or crime-ridden, it could have a significant impact on your return on investment.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

LANDLORDS & TENANTS: CAN A TENANT CANCEL A LEASE?

LANDLORDS & TENANTS: CAN A TENANT CANCEL A LEASE?

When it comes to cancelling a lease early, both landlords and tenants must be aware of their responsibilities. It’s important to note that the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) has been put in place to protect consumers and it has changed the way that South Africans do business. The CPA also protects tenants in cases where they want to cancel a lease early.

According to the CPA, if a tenant provides the landlord with 20 business days’ notice, the tenant has every right to cancel the lease early. However, this does not mean that a tenant can just pack his/her bags and leave the property without facing some sort of penalty or financial repercussion. These penalties and financial repercussions can include a fair cancellation fee, cost of advertising as the landlord would have to advertise to find a new tenant to take the place of the old tenant, and any other costs deemed reasonable in the case that a landlord cannot secure a tenant in such a short time period.

It’s important to note, although a landlord can expect the abovementioned payments, a landlord cannot, under any circumstances, withhold a tenant’s deposit or expect the tenant to pay rent for the remainder of the lease. A landlord can also not charge a ridiculous and unreasonable cancellation fee. Additionally, a landlord may not withhold the deposit instead of charging a cancellation fee. Landlords tend to think that they can withhold deposits for almost any reason, and this is most certainly not the case.

Unfortunately, there are landlords who ignore the CPA and insist that the tenant pay rent until the lease comes to an end when a tenant cancels the lease early. So, is there anything a tenant can do if the abovementioned is the case? Yes. A tenant can approach the National Consumer Tribunal for assistance or contact the Rental Housing Tribunal.

Tenants need to ensure that they read the lease agreement very carefully before signing and to also make note of any provisions made in the lease agreement concerning the early cancellation of the lease as per the CPA. It is expected of landlords to be up to date and aware of the provisions laid out for early cancellation of the lease, but some are not, and this can cause immense problems for tenants. If your prospective landlord refuses to recognise the fact that you may cancel your lease early, consider renting another property. Also, consider renting a different property if the landlord insists on harsh repercussions in the case of early cancellation of the lease.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

MY NEIGHBOURS ARE RENOVATING THEIR HOUSE WITHOUT COMPLYING WITH BUILDING REGULATIONS. WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS?

MY NEIGHBOURS ARE RENOVATING THEIR HOUSE WITHOUT COMPLYING WITH BUILDING REGULATIONS. WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS?

What one’s neighbour builds on their property, is not something the owner of the neighbouring property has a lot of control over. Unfortunately, it can have a negative impact on your property if the building work completed on your neighbour’s property does not comply with building regulations. Furthermore, it can be aesthetically displeasing, and be a sore eye to your property. Is there anything you can do in terms of the law to assist you in situations like these?

Buildings not complying with building regulations:

In the context of increasing state regulation, the adjudication of neighbour disputes about building has now apparently mostly migrated from the private law context of reasonableness to the public law context of legality. One consequence of this shift is that any building, first of all, has to comply with statutory and regulatory requirements before there could be any question about the reasonableness of any impact it may have on neighbours. Building works that do not comply with the applicable formal requirements (including permission to develop or subdivide, removal or amendment of restrictive conditions, compliance with zoning restrictions, and approval of building plans) are illegal regardless of their effect on neighbours.

To have these building works declared illegal (to have building work stopped or to have the completed building work demolished), neighbours do not have to prove that the buildings are unnatural, abnormal or unreasonable in the context – the mere fact that they do not comply with the formal requirements is enough to render them illegal. Building and zoning regulations are normally enforced by the relevant local authorities, but if they fail to do so, it has been decided that neighbours have the necessary locus standi to apply for a court order to enforce compliance with the relevant laws and regulations.

Remedies

The local authority or neighbours can obtain an interdict to stop the building work and – at least in some instances – an order to have the illegal buildings demolished.

It has been decided that the courts have the discretion to award monetary compensation rather than order demolition, but recently the courts have repeatedly stated that they will not be precluded from handing down demolition orders simply because buildings have been completed or because of the cost or value of completed building works or the hardship that the builder would suffer if a demolition order was granted.[1]

Views, sunlight, natural flow of air, privacy

A landowner cannot complain generally speaking, when otherwise lawful building works on adjoining or neighbouring land obstruct her previously existing view across that land or her previously existing access to sunlight, natural light or the natural flow of air.[2]

In De Kock v Saldanhabaai Munisipaliteit[3], the applicant argued that the building plans approved with regard to neighbouring land had to be reviewed and set aside because the building, once completed, would allow the neighbours to see onto his property, thereby invading his privacy. The application was dismissed because the court found no indication that the local authority had failed to apply its mind or to consider the relevant legislation and regulations in approving the plans. The implication seems to be that a landowner does not have an independent, inherent right to oppose building works on neighbouring land that would afford a view onto his property.[4]

Conclusion:

If a building does not comply with the relevant building regulations, or is not built according to an approved plan, an aggrieved neighbour’s primary remedy is to report the building to the municipality. The municipality is then supposed to interdict the person transgressing building regulations from building further and can even order for the demolition of an illegal structure. If the municipality fails in abovementioned duty, a neighbour can approach the court to enforce compliance with municipal regulations.

Building work which is only aesthetically displeasing or cause a loss of privacy, but adheres to all municipal regulations, will not constitute an actionable cause of action. The rationale behind this is because of the subjective nature of aesthetic considerations – what bothers one neighbour will not bother the next. Therefore, a neighbour’s remedies in this regard are very limited.

[1] AJ van der Walt, The Law of Neighbours, 1st edition, (2010), p. 341-343

[2] Van der Walt, The Law of Neighbours, p. 356

[3] 7488/04 (2006) ZAWCHC 56 (28 November 2006)

4] Van der Walt, The Law of Neighbours, p. 372
 
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

INVESTING IN A RENTAL PROPERTY

INVESTING IN A RENTAL PROPERTY

Buying a rental property could be an incredible investment opportunity, however, it’s important to make a well-informed decision before investing, as it is not for everyone. Although investing in a rental property provides many benefits, such as a potential extra income, and a way of paying off the property, it poses certain risks as well.

The following should be considered when deciding whether or not to invest in a rental property:

  1. Calculate the upfront costs:

When you purchase a property, there are several upfront costs that would need to be paid. These include bond costs, attorney fees, bank initiation fees and transfer duty. You need to be fully financially prepared before investing in a rental property. In the case of applying for a bond, your financial circumstances will be taken into account, as a means of determining whether or not you will be able to service a loan.

  1. Calculate the ongoing costs:

After the property has been purchased, there are several ongoing costs that need to be considered. These costs include rates and taxes, insurance and maintenance.

  1. Vacant rental properties:

If your rental property is empty for a period of time, you need to ensure that you have the funds to cover the costs of your rental property. You cannot depend on your rental property generating an income 24/7.

  1. Rent:

The amount of rent you can charge your tenant per month will depend on factors such as property type, amenities, etc. This should play a vital role in your decision when buying a rental property.

  1. Rental agreement:

Before a tenant moves in, you need to ensure that you have a very strong rental agreement in place. This agreement will protect the property owner in the case of disputes and damages to the property.

  1. Taxes:

The rent that you receive from the tenant, is not meant to go straight to your pocket. Tax law states that the property owner needs to pay tax on the rent received from the tenant.

  1. Potential tenants:

When looking at potential tenants, it is of vital importance that the owner vet all potential tenants, in the form of credit checks, background checks, etc.

The above-mentioned points should be considered before investing in a rental property. As mentioned, it could be a sound investment and provide you with a potential extra income once the property has been paid off, however, if not done right, it could cost the property owner dearly, so be sure to make a well-informed decision before investing.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

BEFORE SIGNING A LEASE

BEFORE SIGNING A LEASE

Tenants often take the signing of a lease agreement lightly and don’t read carefully through the terms and conditions. A proper lease agreement will ensure that both parties’ rights are protected. Landlords must ensure that they include all the necessary information in a lease agreement, while tenants must make sure that all the points discussed with the landlord are included in the lease, instead of just assuming that they are.

Enquire about costs and duration

The monthly rental cost and duration of the lease (including specific dates) must clearly be stated in the lease agreement to avoid any confusion regarding this matter. The lease agreement should also clearly indicate how and when any increases in rent will take place. If the landlord doesn’t provide you with this information, ask him/her to give it to you in writing so you can keep it on record.

The lease should also clearly explain any deposits (e.g. the rental deposit) that have to be paid, as well as the terms and conditions regarding the refund of deposits. All other variable usage expenses (like water or electricity) that the tenant will have to pay should also be clearly stated.

Some rental properties include utilities within the monthly rental cost, while others don’t. Some properties might offer on-site gym memberships, for example, which could save you money. Before you sign the lease to a property, ask your landlord what is included in the rental rate.

Get information regarding changes to the property

Once the landlord has agreed to rent out his property to you, make sure that you document any pre-existing damages to the property and its amenities before you sign the lease. Ask whether these damages can be fixed at the landlord’s expense.

Both the landlord and the tenant are responsible for the maintenance of the property. The responsibilities of both parties should be clearly stated in the lease agreement. The lease agreement should also indicate how the tenant must report any problems that require repair.

Make sure which amendments can be made to the property. Rather know the rules and stick to them, instead of making an alteration and then finding out afterwards that your landlord is unhappy with it. Just imagine your landlord’s disgust after finding out that you’ve repainted his freshly white-painted walls red!

Conclusion

Tenants should be sure to understand the contents contained in the lease agreement and that they understand all the clauses, terms and conditions to avoid any surprises later. While renting a property isn’t as much of a financial commitment as buying a home is, tenants should remember that a lease is nevertheless a legally binding document, meaning that they should make sure that they agree with everything contained therein before they sign it.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

There is a way to keep the view

There is a way to keep the view

When you purchase a house with a view, you probably think that you are going to enjoy this view every day for the rest of your life. Until you receive a flyer with a picturesque multi-story building guaranteed to block your view. This will definitely result in a few disputes that will leave you wishing you had secured your view.

Right to the view

Just because the property has an unrestricted view, it does not mean that the view is the owner’s. To secure it, a registration of a servitude against the title deeds of the properties in the Deeds Office. This includes the natural growth of trees or plants that will block the view over time.

The registered servitude

The registration of the servitude must be made clear where the intentions of the servitude are established and made clear. This is so that when an issue regarding property views reaches the court, the court would need not be concerned about ambiguity and surrounding circumstances.

Court’s considerations

Before reaching a decision, the court may be mindful of considerations when the servitude is interpreted. The result will try, as far as possible, to alleviate burdens on the servient property owner. Emphasis is placed on views and the purpose of the servitude as to provide unobstructed views as they existed at the time of the creation of the servitude.

A new property owner may have to consider the type of building they are wishing to erect so it does not impose on any restrictions in terms of an agreement made by the “owner” of the view.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

WHEN CAN THE MUNICIPALITY DISCONNECT MY WATER AND ELECTRICITY?

WHEN CAN THE MUNICIPALITY DISCONNECT MY WATER AND ELECTRICITY?

The municipality is the place where most, if not all, services are monitored for their availability to a property, and it is the very place that may cut off the supply of said services. Their authority does, however, come with the responsibility of remaining within the legal boundaries of managing the supply of services to properties. This article will explore the legalities of disconnecting water or electricity.

Accounts in arrears

If one of your municipal services is in arrears, the municipality is well within their rights to disconnect whatever service when there are undisputed arrears owed to any other service in connection with the related property. Before any disconnection takes place, there is a procedure for the municipality to follow.

Notices

The municipality is legally obligated to give a notice to the person responsible for the account. A minimum of 14 days written notice of termination is required for water and electricity accounts in arrears and if the notice period is shorter than 14 days, or not supplied, the disconnection is illegal. The 14-day notice gives the responsible party an opportunity to present any disputes or queries they may have regarding the account or allow them to repay the arrears.

The query period

Once a query relating to the account has been put in, the municipality may not disconnect services provided that the amount being queried is equal to the amount in arrears. In the case where the amount is less that the amount in arrears, the service may be disconnected for the undisputed amount owing.

Payment of arrears

When a query has been logged, it can only be valid for so long provided that the monthly bill or any other related payments are being made to the respective account. If the responsible person does not make any form of payment, the service may be disconnected even if a logged query exists with the municipality.

State where the payment should go

If there is an account dispute and the responsible person makes a payment to the municipality, the municipality may choose to allocate that money to any account they wish to do so. This means the account in need of the payment may not have the payment made into it. To curb this, the responsible person must notify the municipality, in writing, of the payments being made as well as which account they should be allocated to. This must be done before payment is made.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

UNLAWFULLY EVICTED? HERE’S A PIECE OF PIE

UNLAWFULLY EVICTED? HERE’S A PIECE OF PIE

Unless the sheriff of the court has evicted you, you should remain right where you are. If anyone else carries out an eviction, it constitutes as unlawful according to the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land (PIE) Act.

Regarding the eviction process, the PIE Act stipulates this:

  • Certain procedures must be followed
  • Notice of the intention of getting a court order must be given to the tenant
  • The landowner or landlord must apply to the court to have a written notice served on the tenant
  • The notice must be served at least 14 days before the hearing

The Rental Housing Tribunal (RHT) works alongside the Rental Housing Act, fostering the relationship between landlords and tenants to be one of fairness in terms of lease agreements and any unlawful evictions and unlawful notices to vacate. From the moment the lease agreement terms have been breached, for example, the tenant fails to make rent payments, the landlord may cancel the agreement and the tenant then becomes an illegal occupier.

The PIE Act states that no one may be without property except in terms of law of general application.  Arbitrary deprivation of property from any person is unlawful. Additionally:

  • no one may be evicted from their home, or have their home demolished without an order of court made after considering all the relevant circumstances;
  • it is desirable that the law should regulate the eviction of unlawful occupiers from land in a fair manner, while recognising the right of land owners to apply to a court for an eviction order in appropriate circumstances;
  • special consideration should be given to the rights of the elderly, children, disabled persons and particularly households headed by women, and it should be recognised that the needs of those groups should be considered.

The notice does not guarantee that the unlawful tenant will leave the premises as the court can only grant eviction if it is just and equitable. The owner must also have reasonable grounds for eviction and alternative accommodation available to the tenant.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

CAN MY PROPERTY BE USED FOR AIRBNB?

CAN MY PROPERTY BE USED FOR AIRBNB?

When deciding whether to become an Airbnb host, it’s important for you to understand how the laws work in your city.

According to Brett Herron, the mayoral committee member for transport and urban development at the City of Cape Town, different holiday accommodation land use types, such as B&Bs and guest houses, are regulated by the City’s zoning scheme, called the Development Management Scheme.

If referring to Cape Town, for instance, the city has a Guest Accommodation Policy that sets out the guidelines that have to be considered when applications are made to obtain the necessary planning permissions. According to the Policy, if you wanted to provide a self-catering, flexible accommodation option in line with current trends for transient guests, visitors and tourists, then these are the guidelines that should be followed:

Purpose

  • A building or group of buildings consisting of separate accommodation units rented for residential purposes, each incorporating a kitchenette / full kitchen, but may also include an option of meals being provided communally to guests.
  • May include communal areas for the exclusive use by lodgers / transient guests.

Scale

  • Form and scale of development determined by development parameters of particular zone (i.e. floor space, building lines, height) and the site context.
  • No general restriction on number of units, but must be locally appropriate in context of the building/site characteristics and surrounding area.
  • Council may determine / restrict the number of units per development in cases and lay down conditions necessary to mitigate the impact thereof.

Location

  • Not supported on a single residential zoned property, subject site must have suitable general residential, mixed use or commercial zoning.
  • Locational criteria that should be considered, include:
  • proximity to public transport routes, commercial centres and tourist activities.
  • character of the surrounding area;
  • mixed use or commercial locations (including areas designated for high density development) are encouraged.

Conclusion

In many cities, you must register, get a permit, or obtain a licence before you can list your property or accept guests. Certain types of short-term bookings may be prohibited altogether. Local municipalities may also vary greatly in how they enforce these laws. However, it is not impossible to list your property on Airbnb, you just have to find out from the local municipality if you have the correct permissions and if the property has the correct zoning.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

Reference

Guest Accommodation Policy, the City of Cape Town, Department of Planning & Building Development Management.

“Regulating Airbnb in Cape Town”, Jan Vermeulen, MyBroadband. https://mybroadband.co.za/news/government/210884-regulating-airbnb-in-cape-town.html